This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Title double-checked. Everyone was too kind or didn’t notice but I mis-typed the title of this weekly post last week to “The Week in Ontario Edublogs”. I didn’t realize it until I did my Sunday summary post and, by that time, it was too late to correct. Because of WordPress’ naming convention, I’ve now done that four times. So, add 4 to the URL of this post if you’re interested in the number of times I’ve written this regular Friday feature.

However you look at it, it’s a chance to showcase some incredible writing from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, if you know of a blog from Ontario or you’re writing one and it needs to be added to the list, just let me know. Please.


What’s in a Name?

This isn’t a new blog post but rather a transcript of an interlude from Pav Wander from a year ago. It’s still as relevant as ever.

Every teacher deals with this. You get your class lists in advance of school and are ready to welcome these bodies to your classroom. I would go over those in advance and there always seemed to be some that look like they might be a challenge. I would practice reading them out loud to my wife for feedback. Here in Essex County, it seems like you can’t win at times. My Grade 10 French class didn’t prepare for the pronunciations that some French names had adopted.

I think I had a relatively easy name to pronounce and can recall only one time with a mis-pronunciation from a University prof who called me “Petterson”. It was a bit funny but I let it slide since, due the nature of university, it might be the only time he ever uttered my name. I still remember, though, how my head snapped to attention because it was pronounced incorrectly? A little thing? No, it isn’t. It’s my name.

In this post, Pav gives us a much different and very personal story that actually reveals why she goes by Pav as opposed to her formally given name.

Reading it, also brought back a couple more memories for me.

The first was a friend of mine who is in sales and his advice was wise – a person’s name is so personal and may be the most valuable thing that a person owns. He recommended always knowing names even if you forget other things since a person’s name is the most important thing they’ll ever own. You’ll be excused for forgetting other things as long as you get the name right.

The second is another friend of mine who reinforces that notion for me. He never, ever has said “Happy Birthday” that I know of. It’s always “Happy Naming Day”. His take goes beyond the notion of “Name Day” and makes assumptions about when you actually acquire your name. Still…

In high school, one of my friends called me a different name. I wasn’t “Doug” but became “Andy” (my dad’s name) and so many of my other friends followed. So, I guess it was a nickname that kind of stuck. A few years ago, we had a high school reunion some 30-40 years later. They still remembered me as “Andy”.

So, imagine this little girl growing up with a name that seemingly everyone mispronounces. From her past, Pav gives us a personal history, a lesson in language, and the rationale for why she changed her name to what it is today. It’s actually a little emotional – I’ve always thought of the issue from the perspective of a teacher looking over class lists but reading a reflection of a little girl who constantly had her name “butchered” was eye opening and quick frankly, more than just a little sad. Obviously, she’s a very strong woman and did something about it but it’s still not right that it had to come to that.


Bananas for Baton

Man, I love this post from Diana Maliszewski. You can always count on her to come up with an idea, a concept, a thought, an inspiration that is unique and pays back so much educationally.

Everyone in education is challenged by the new set of rules dropped on them. Yes, they’re there for the safety of everyone.

I think most people feel a connection to The Boy in the Bubble these days.

Diana was inspired by a real life passion and qualification that I had no inkling that she possessed – she’s a certified Baton Coach and through her community connections ends up with a class set of batons for her students and physical education. She was quite surprised that it was adopted so well by her class.

And, it’s not one or two batons as I ranted about earlier this week. She’s got a class set and these things don’t come cheaply.

Of course, there are more rules and that’s to be expected but I just have this delightful vision of a class in the gymnasium doing some twirling and enjoying it.

Only in Mrs. Maliszewski’s class!


Given the Gift of Choice, the Voice Soars

Given all the things that are ongoing with school administrators including the rolling of a die to see if schools are closed or open after the Easter Weekend, you’d think that class visits to see student work and presentations might not be anywhere near the top of the list for principals.

But then, you probably haven’t met Sue Bruyns!

Her description of her activity in the classroom is typically COVID. She deliberately avoided a group as she circulated a class because of the “very crowded” group around them but the teacher made sure that her promise that she “skipped, until later” was kept.

The result? You need to read Sue’s post to get the full experience. I can understand her reaction. The projects were about the journey of American slaves and how they ended up in London.

I thoroughly enjoyed this inspirational story from Sue. We need more of these to remind us that there are good things happening in our world.

Sue’s post reminded me of this article from TVO. The date reminds us of so many things…

The story of Ontario’s last segregated Black school


Developing a Sense of Exploration, Wonder, Curiosity and Adventure in your Classrooms

Peter Cameron shares with us a post with no real answers. It’s a copy of a post that he sent to the National Geographic Education Certification Community particularly focusing on the words…

“exploration”, “wonder”, “curiosity” and “adventure”

All of those are good words and, if you’re a follower of Peter, you know that he exhibits this in his class, shares to his social media, and I’ve helped amplify his voice by posting here or talking about the ideas on my voicEd Radio show.

Now, as a computer science teacher, my curriculum applicability doesn’t run the range of an elementary school classroom but I like to think I did a great deal addressing “curiosity”. At the time, I had a subscription to Games magazine and when I was finished with my monthly issue, I’d put the copy in the cupboard in my classroom. They were available for students to pull and work their way through and the type of student that ends up taking computer science likes a good puzzle to solve.

Even better, if they sit down and write a computer program as a solution, you have to be impressed. Or, they’ll look at someone else’s code and just wonder “how did they do that”.


A conversation with Melanie

Thunder Bay’s biggest Melanie fan has to be Sheila Stewart and she writes about the interview conducted by Stephen Hurley on voicEd Radio with the artist. He uses the entire hour for a discussion with Melanie.

You can listen to the show here:

Look What They’ve Done To My Song ft. Melanie Safka

It’s a nice recognition to the effort that Stephen went to host the interview. Of course, this calls for a song or two.


Growing as an Artist

It was a real treat to see Colleen Rose back in action on her blog. I think we’ve all felt the strain of winter amplified by the fact that we have to stay home almost all the time.

With spring on the horizon, I think we’re looking forward to getting a number of things back into gear again. Colleen is constantly keeping her eyes open to the world around here and also beyond.

It’s the beyond that she features in this post and is the reality for so many artists these days – online exhibitions which only makes sense from a logistical point of view. The voice in the back of my head sees this as a way for traditional exhibitions to maybe grow and feature the work of even more artists than in the past.

The other part of her post brings in some technology as she goes online to connect and learn with others. Again, I can’t help but be impressed that good folks are doing that to connect and help each other.

Sure, it was always possible but did it really happen? Has our current reality opened opportunities that might now have happened otherwise? It’s always a feel good story when wonderful people I know get a chance to connect with other wonderful people.

Congratulations, Colleen.


Wrong again

Will Gourley probably never will be hired as a textbook salesperson based upon this quote in his most recent post…

I am choosing to avoid the prescribed resources from text book companies that have grown largely culturally irrelevant and unresponsive

All of this emerges from a discussion he has in this post about anti-racism and ways that he’s addressing it personally in addition to everything else that educators have to address in these times.

our roles have now expanded to include daily counselling on issues of mental health, experts at PPE, and classroom sanitizers extraordinaire. We have also become distance learning specialists, multi-modal lesson trailblazers, fearless conversationalists about issues of race and racism, and criticial thinkers on how to overcome and dismantle systemic racism and bias.

I can’t help but think that the anti-racism stance is even more important than ever and textbooks can be excused for not seeing what’s happening in our world – just turn on the 6:00 news at night and there’s yet another sad story to report. Is it time that the traditional paper textbook is just discarded and publishers move to online so they can keep pace and stay relevant?

In the meantime, Will’s description I suspect describes life for so many well meaning educators right now trying to do the very best in a world that just seems to be out to get you at every turn.


Of course, I’m writing this on the Thursday before the Friday that it’s published. I’ve double-checked the title and am humbled after reading all of these blogs posts yet again. I hope that you can find time to click through and read them all.

Then, follow these educators on Twitter.

  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Peter Cameron – @petectweets
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking
  • Colleen Rose – @ColleenKR
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


You know, you don’t really appreciate something until you lose it. I’m feeling that this week in my loss of freedom to just go and browse my way through a store. It’s not that I do it a lot but the important part is that, in another time, I actually could if I wanted to. I just can’t now.

I did have a fulfilling moment last night. A childhood friend of mine had a crashed iPad and I was able to give her some advice and she’s back online now. My price was very affordable compared to what Apple would have charged. I got:


On to some of the great things that crossed my keyboard this week from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.


COVID-19 & Education

Shelly Vohra offers some candid advice about attempts by the Ministry of Education to promote e-learning or online learning or what you may wish to call it. She echoes some of the observations that have been talked about here and in other places. It is in stark contrast to the comments coming from some of the right-wing news sources in the province. They just don’t have a clue. The sad thing is the number of anonymous comments. I don’t reshare because I don’t believe and yet I can’t resist the urge to read the garbage that they are spewing. Like I indicated previously on this blog, you can’t equate one person with a computer from their employer and an internet connection with a teacher trying to teach a class of students with varying needs and just as many varying computer configurations. That is, of course, if the student is fortunate enough to have a computer and an internet connection.

Shelly points out, with respect to the Minstry’s assumptions that this is a good thing:

  • The first is that educators were not consulted in the creation of this ‘resource’
  • Secondly, the ‘resource’ doesn’t take into consideration the diversity in our student population
  • my third issue with such a ‘resource’ – the issue of equity.

We can’t overlook that this will be a good resource for some and certainly school districts are, or have been directed to, share on their website.

Shelly promises a followup post with some of her ideas.


How The Coronavirus Should Impact Education

Matthew Morris takes on the topic of how all this should affect education. He thinks that we’ll all play out and make the best of things in the short term. He focuses instead on the future.

So, what does happen if and when the balance of the school year is cancelled.

I did have to smile just a bit when he took on society’s perspective of Physical and Health Education. Is it a nice break from the rigours of the classroom or does it have a more important role?

And, where do report cards fit in?

This post is a nice focus on reality.


Illness, Shame and the Educator Martyr Complex

From the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Michelle Fenn makes some observations based on the current reality and some of the realizations that can come from it.

We all have experienced the various scenarios in Michelle’s post. We have indeed dragged ourselves into work when we should have stayed at home.

We all have those emergency lesson plans that are tucked away for such an occasion and hope that we never need them.

We all know the panic of going to bed well and waking up ill. What will the kids do?

At some point, we’ve all had the experience of going into work when we really shouldn’t. As Michelle notes, we’ve made gains through collective bargaining about how to take care of ourselves. Sadly, there are employers that want to cut into this. There’s a huge difference in workplace activity between dealing with a full timetable of students who might be sick and some other professions that are nowhere near this. I still can’t get over that moronic Twitter message that I read indicating that teachers will get through COVID-19 because the experience of dealing with coughing the spreading a of germs of the classroom will help them.

Ironically, we have an entire province that has shut itself down due to a virus and those that are really worried about the impact of the lack of doing their jobs and the students they’re charged to work with are the teachers.


Exceptional Times: Using a Pandemic to Close the Digital Divide

Tim King follows up on a previous blog post where he addressed the challenges of having insufficient internet access at school for his needs with this post.

Now, he takes the concept of connectivity globally. I found his reference to the Loon project interesting. Note that this video is at least three years old.

And, of course, you’ll need a computer to attach to the network. He cites two sources; one being the unused computers at schools right now and the second being the Computers for Schools project.

I would suggest that all this is a start but won’t get us where we ultimately need to be. My internet service provider uses LTE and Satellite; it’s part of Canada’s rural solution. I had to send a warning to Stephen Hurley earlier this week that our voicEd show might be in danger when I ran a Speedtest and got this.

Image

Stephen recommends at least 2MB for success. Fortunately, it was a bit better for Wednesday morning. Had I needed the speed when I ran the test, I would have been out of luck. Imagine being a student at home relying on synchronous connections with a teacher.

The second part of the equation involves getting computers in the hands of students. One solution is to provide repurposed computers with a Linux environment and have them connect to a network with those specifications. The problem with older computers is that repairs and getting parts can be a challenge when things go wrong. I have a Dell (not exactly a generic machine) with a flashing orange light indicating that it doesn’t recognize the battery that it came with. It’s not likely that I’m going to shell out money for a new battery for this older computer.

On top of all of this, we make reference to this as a solution to those students whose families cannot afford their own technology. So, the poorer get a bandaid solution?

Despite my negative points above, a solution like this needs to be found. Traditionally, we’ve looked to public libraries as an evening solution but when they’re closed, that option is out.

Looking for a solution while living the problem really isn’t the solution. A proactive solution like hospitals have in hand needs to be in place. Smart educators like Tim should be given credit for their thoughts, along with a budget, and come up with a permanent solution should a similar situation ever arise again. And, even if it doesn’t, who wouldn’t want a solution where every student in the province has reliable access to the internet.


Being a Skillful Teacher

From the TESL Blog comes a post from Martina Finnegan that includes one of the best thinking moments for me this past while.

“Skillful teaching is the teaching that is contextually informed” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 20). We teach what we assume students should be learning in their particular situations, and sometimes this requires veering away from a syllabus and taking hold of alternate methods to help students learn what is required for their field

In today’s reality, I think of teachers that are now thrust online to continue their teaching.

I’ve been in conversation with a friend in the States that is teaching his Computer Science courses online. The connection to the student is through video conferencing from his living room to goodness knows where. I do know that one of those locations is in China.

One of my superintendents was a big believer in Management by Walking Around. Great read here. He believed that the best teachers are always walking around, looking at student progress and then let the alternate methods that Martina alludes to kick in. Educators know what the end game is and will do whatever is needed to get there.

I would hope that the best of the best meet Martina’s standards of a “Skillful Teacher”. She’s got some great references for additional reading in the post.


Neighbourhood Mending – 19/31 #SOL20

Melanie White SCREAMS

“This is not my neighbourhood!”

Why is she screaming?

She’s looking at a glossy magazine that describes her neighbourhood. The pictures that she sees in the magazine are drastically different from what she sees when she looks out the front window or around her neighbourhood.

It’s difficult to believe that this is happening in Canada in 2020. Judging by the comments to Melanie’s post, she’s not the only one who sees this and want to take action.

Letter writing to the magazine is a good start. Letter writing to those businesses that advertise in the magazine, cc: the magazine and to social media would even be more effective.


Andrea’s 2 Degrees

The Beast is back!

When I read the title, I thought it might be about a Degree in the Arts and a Degree in Education like so many teachers in province have and how could that be a post.

But I was wrong.

It’s a wonderful story about a relationship and professionalism that brings in a running kindergarten student and how grade 5 students ended up being more effective than the vice-principal in her role of authority.

Now, I’ve heard (and watched) 6 degrees of separation. I had to do a bit of research to find out just what was meant by 2 degrees. I hope that this is the context that they use in the post because I used it to understand their message.

There are specific spaces around each of us: 1. private space is the immediate space or circle – you. The next circle or microsystem is: 2. close family, friends, and peers in school, workplace, religious affiliation and neighborhood. The next circle would be the mesosystem: 3. to a lesser degree of closeness, extended family, acquaintances, and peers in school, workplace, religious affiliation and neighborhood. Circles 2. and 3. are the combined social space. Next is the exosystem, public space: 4. community, county, state, nation. The final circle, macrosystem, would represent: 5. the world. In Karinthy’s concept of six degrees of separation, a person would be six steps away from any one person in the world. This is the interconnectedness of dependent-origination. We are all connected. One degree of separation would place you solely in the inner most social circle or microsystem. This would lead you to a very select few within that social space closest to you.

When her direct message was ineffective, she turned to the connections of the 2nd degree and they were indeed able to be effective in stopping the running behaviour.

Then, in true Beast fashion, we’re witness to a discussion between Andrea and Kelly about this and their relationship.

In particular, I’m interested in this concept of a “2 degrees pilot”.


And, again, a wonderful collection of thought from Ontario Edubloggers. Please take time to click through and read the original posts.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Michelle Fenn – @Toadmummy
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Martina Finnegan – @TESLOntario
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • The Beast – @thebeastedu

This post appears on:

http://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


First…

ETFO

Happy Valentine’s Day to ETFO members who are striking in:

  • Kawartha Pine Ridge
  • Near North
  • Rainy River School Boards.

No comment is necessary about the current situation in Ontario. If you’re a teacher in any publicly funded school, you know.

How about some great blogging from Ontario Edubloggers instead?


Payoff

Only an English teacher could be excited and motivated to use all caps.

THEY ALL HAVE PENS OR PENCILS. Every. Single. One.

What a great start to a new semester for Amanda Potts and her Grade 12 English students.

If you’re a secondary school teacher, you’ll absolutely appreciate Amanda’s observations about the difference between the enthusiasm of her Grade 12 students and those of her Grade 10s.

Her words speak to her professionalism. Only a teacher could immediately make observations about reluctant or even fake readers. The sooner this can be observed, the sooner something can be done about it.

From Day 1, she had them reading and she’s excited about that. She notes that the books are in “no discernible order”. Maybe that adds to the excitement of finding something interesting to read. You have to find it first.

Oh, and I was kidding about the pens and pencils. All teachers appreciate that. My method of encouragement to bring them was a box of golf pencils that I had on hand to lend those who forgot their own.


The Education Reform Most Needed for the New Decade

Before you click through and read this post from Anne-Marie Kee, think about what your personal answer would be to that statement.

Anne-Marie makes it clear that she is a supporter of technology and its use in her school but that wasn’t her answer.

Her answer came as a realization of the power of music and community that originated from a New Year’s concert celebration.

Her description of the service took me back to my youth at St. Paul’s Anglican Church and the big ol’ pipe organ. There’s just something special about being among the community with that one single instrument filling the church with music.


Why I Strike.

Zoe in 1980 from her blog

Teachers: Cuts hurt kids

Government: It’s all about money

If only it was that simple.

If you do nothing else, head to the bottom of Zoe Branigan-Pipe’s blog post where she gives a bit of a history of gains made by unions dealing with teacher working and student learning conditions.

Throughout the post, Zoe chronicles her various activities as a social activist.

I know that it’s easy to wax philosophy about the good ol’ days when we were in school. But, put yourself in the shoes of your old teachers and society as it was. The good ol’ days really weren’t that good. The job has evolved; society has evolved; the conditions under which teachers must work and students learn need to evolve as well.


Teacher Performance Appraisal: Advice for New Teachers

Speaking of the good ol’ days. Those of us who are long in the tooth can reflect back now about the process that we went through as we were being evaluated for the first time as really being a crap shoot. It truly was that and the TPA of today doesn’t come close to my experience.

I didn’t know what “they” would be looking for. I hoped that it was the teaching and learning that went on in the class. My Computer Science classroom was hardly a lecture hall. With limited resources, students were at various points of turning their inspiration into programs that worked. As it turned out, one of the superintendents wanted to actually see a lecture. Fortunately, I was able to turn a “history of computers” into a sit ‘n git instead of a research activity.

In this post, Laura Bottrell summarizes what is appraised during these sessions and clearly points out that it’s not a one shot, winner take all process.

Hopefully, new teachers are well schooled in the process before the it begins through their Faculty of Education, Program Departments, local administrators, and local federations.


Thank you

I really did some thinking about whether or not to include this post from Patti Henderson. Sadly, her mother passed away recently and this is a celebration of her life and the eulogy that she and her sister wrote and delivered.

Beyond their words, it’s the presentation in this blog post that is so powerful here.

Patti manages to weave a story in words and pictures of a life and story that is a tribute to her mother. It’s very well done and the collection of artifacts is amazing.

I find myself a little envious; my own mother didn’t like to have her picture taken so the few that we do have are so precious.

My condolences, Patti.


Here’s what I know about class sizes

I’m taking a lot of liberties with this one from Beth Lyons. It doesn’t appear on her blog. Rather, it’s more of an insight that she posted on Facebook. So, you’ll have to be a friend of Beth’s to read it.

I thought that, throughout this entry, she really showed some deep insights about what class numbers mean to good planning, good teaching, and good contacts. Keep in mind that Beth is a teacher-librarian so she reaches out and touches every student in the school. In the process of this post, she bounces between that and her previous life as a classroom teacher.

About determining reading level per child

Remember the class of 23 kids? Right. I’m only working with one of them. For 20 minutes. That means I need to have an interesting and compelling enough activity that the other 22 can do on their own. For 20 minutes.

A new student

Also, there’s a new student moving in on Monday. Better find a desk. And a chair. Don’t forget to buy supplies because your budget is already used up.

Concerns about well-being

Did that student you were keeping an eye on bring a lunch today? You haven’t seen them eat in a few days.

What about the other student that always wears their “favourite” sweater. Every day. And their pants are too short. And their toes are sticking out of their shoes. I wonder if they’ll have boots or mitts this winter.

And much more. Beth’s community really chimed in nicely with support and comments about this. Hopefully, we can convince her to move it to her blog so that more can enjoy and share it.


Friday Two Cents: I Fought The Good Fight

This post, from Paul Gauchi, is a little different than a story of a typical teacher striking for better working conditions in their classroom.

As readers know, Paul is an Occasional Teacher so he doesn’t have his own classroom or a permanent school. Potentially, he has every classroom in the district! Since he’s not assigned to one particular school, he has his choice as to where he would like to go and support colleagues. He makes an interesting and well-reasoned choice.

And yet, there was a nagging in his mind of another issue in another time and place where he wasn’t supported by colleagues.

It’s actually quite a sad story that he shares. Ever positive though, he recognizes that he can’t change the past but does have at least a partial say in his future.


Please take the time to click through and read all of these posts. They’ll inspire and give you some thoughts as you start your day.

And, follow them on Twitter.

  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Anne-Marie Kee – @AMKeeLCS
  • Zoe Branigan-Pipe – @zbpipe
  • Laurel Bottrell – @L_Bottrell
  • Patti Henderson – @GingerPatti
  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon

This post originates on:

http://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.